St Mary's Church, South Cowton, North Yorkshire

South Cowton, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL7 0JB
How to find us | Access information
Opening times:
Open daily from 10am - 4pm. For further information please contact Mark Sproat via email [email protected] or phone on 07392 087023.
  • Overview
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A finely-crafted church built in warring times

St Mary's stands above the water meadows of South Cowton, the village having long disappeared.  The settlement is mentioned in Domesday Book as ‘Cudton’, probably translating as ‘Cuthbert’s settlement’. A church dedicated to St Cuthbert (d. 687) may have existed here at that time. Any trace of an earlier building has disappeared and the present structure was built during the 1450s. To the South one gets a great view of the neighbouring castle on the hill to the south. Sir Richard Conyers, a supporter of the House of York, erected both buildings between 1450 and 1470 at the start of the Wars of the Roses.

This handsome church, like the castle, is sturdy in character.  The heraldry and inscriptions carved onto the exterior walls of the tower and chancel indicate that the Boynton and Conyers families were instrumental in the church’s construction. Inside the craftsmanship is superb, especially the stained glass, wall painting, consecration crosses and roof.   There is also a porch with a barrel roof and room above and a strange 'two-faced' carving on a choir stall. 
Christopher Conyers inherited the manor of South Cowton from Joan Beaufort, wife of Ralph Neville, first Earl of Westmoreland and grandmother to King Edward IV, Richard III and Warwick ‘the Kingmaker’. Conyers’ son Richard built the nearby castle and probably paid for much of the building of St Mary’s. Effigies believed to be of Richard and his two wives lie in the chancel. 

Above the porch door, the Latin inscription around the shield reads, ‘Pray for the soul of Richard Conyers and Alice his wife’. The heraldry over the chancel door includes the inscription ‘Christopher Boynton’. The architecture reflects the turmoil of the period, having been built during the Wars of the Roses. The tower is fortress-like and the nave, chancel and tall porch, with few decorative features except for heraldry, have the appearance of solidity and defense. 

Your support and generosity is what helps us keep the doors to these special places open. We could not do it without you.If you would like to donate to the upkeep and maintenance of St Mary’s please text SCO to 70970 to donate £5 or to 70191 to give £10 every donation really does make a difference to these beautiful churches.

Thank You.


South Cowton St. Mary - Your Church Tour


  • Access information
    Access to the church is along a path, through churchyard and through the small chancel door at the south-eastern end of the church. Access is tight through the door and there is one step down into the church.
  • Facilities & Hire
    Due to the historic nature of our buildings only a small number have heating, running water and toilet facilities. The lighting is usually operated via a 'push button' timer or a motion sensor.
  • Directions
    8 miles east of Richmond, off B1263. Travelling from Catterick, turn right before the garage at the crossroads to north and east Cowton. Follow the farm track for 0.5 miles past Church Farm to the church.
  • Transport
    Nearest railway station: Northallerton (8 miles)
  • History & Further Information

    Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church before you visit? You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this church.

    South Cowton St. Mary - Your Church Tour Yorkshire County Guide 2012

    This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches we care for in North, South and West Yorkshire. Printed copies of the county guides are also available at the church.

    Enjoy a spell of calm reflection with our Mindful Moments:

    Uncover the past with a St Mary's History Highlight:

  • Community information

    Useful local links: